Forget cheques. First of all because writing out a cheque is expensive: banks charge a commission fee per cheque issued abroad. It can be very high. Secondly, because shops often refuse them: they also charge a high commission on foreign cheques.
How does it work?Changing pounds into another currency isn't free. This transaction has a cost, which varies according to the demanded currenciesThere are three sorts of currencies: those from the "euro" zone, also called "in", they are the eleven currencies of the European Union ; the currencies from the so-called zone "out" (the American Dollar and the Japanese Yen) and the numerous non-convertible currencies (the New Turkish Lira, the Moroccan Dirham, the Russian Rouble...).If the currency you are buying is from the "in" zone you will pay a commission fee (it covers the currency exchange expenses). The fee varies according to the bank from 2.5 to 4.5% of the transaction's amount, and often with a minimum imposed rate. This commission is around 5% in most foreign exchange offices: so avoid them if you are buying "in" currencies.If the currency exchanged belongs to the "out" zone, banks will then charge a commission fee and an exchange commission (which covers the risks linked to the rate fluctuations) equivalent to 4 to 5% of the transaction's amount. In this particular case, it is often cheaper to go to a foreign exchange office that has a commission fee of around 2.5% of the transaction's amount.Changing some money before travelling, in small notes will cover your costs upon arrival (tips, newspaper, snack) without having to run to find some cash.National Banks (like the Bank of England) do not necessarily have a more interesting rate than other banks. Our adviceIf you are going to a "non-convertible" country, choose a currency that is easy to exchange once there, and often even accepted as such, for example American Dollars in Cuba or in Russia, Euros in the Maghreb or in Africa. Unless you want to keep a few coins as a souvenir, think of getting rid of all your non-convertible currencies before leaving the country, as banks will not accept them.If you wish to change your money in a bank, choose your own as they will not make you pay the non-client fee.Don't forget to make your demand two days ahead so that the bank has the currencies. In a foreign exchange office on the other hand, the availability of currencies is immediate.A general rule is to avoid changing money in aiports. Once you have arrived at your destination, avoid changing money in hotels Go for the banks in town: their commission rates are less expensive.
TRAVELLERS CHEQUESHow does it work?Travellers cheques are means of payments of a given sum labelled in a currency chosen from thirteen currencies including the Euro. Issued by American Express and Thomas Cook, they can be bought in both networks or in banks. For American Express, the commission is of 1% of the total amount of the cheques, and 2.5% for Thomas Cook (with a minimum of 4 pounds). Obtaining Travellers cheques is therefore less expensive than changing currencies. Practical, Travellers cheques enable you to withdraw money from the banks of the visited country. They are also accepted by a great number of shops who will give you the change back in the local currency. Two signatures are required (you must countersign a cheque for it to be accepted) to secure its functioning.Travellers cheques being issued in few currencies (American Dollar, Sterling Pound, Yen), you will need cheques labelled in Dollars if you are travelling to Asia or South America, regions where the Dollar is easily exchanged. If you are going to the Maghreb, francophone Africa or the Middle-East, bring Travellers labelled in EurosFor Travellers chequesExcept due to local particular legislations, travellers can take and spend as many cheques as they want. In the case of lost or stolen, Travellers cheques are changed for free, generally under 48 hours. Additionally, their validity is unlimitedTravellers cheques avoid the hassle of carrying too much cash around. Once arrived, you can change them as you go for small quantities of money.Against Travellers chequesAlthough generally accepted in banks and shops in most countries, they can sometimes be hard to use, particularly in Italy. Go to your bank for information.Our adviceIn order to avoid paying a commission once there, change your Thomas Cook Travellers cheques in a Thomas Cook agency. American express Travellers cheques are always taxed when exchanged.Write down the numbers of your cheques as well as the number to dial in case of stolen or lost cheques.
BANK CARDSHow does this work ?The bank card - international - will allow you to easily withdraw money abroad, at an automatic cash dispenser or at the counter, and to pay in shops. Of course these services have a cost. Every time you withdraw cash at a dispenser you are systematically taxed (around 2 pounds), as well as paying a commission in proportion to the sum withdrawn. Each payment made in shops is equally taxed. For example, if you withdraw or buy something for 160 pounds abroad, your bank will tax you in between 4 to 8 pounds. Withdrawing money abroad is often more advantageous than changing money at home.ForBank cards enable you to pay large sums of money without having to withdraw money (hotels, excursions...).In the case of lost or stolen, a card is easily renewed so that you can keep on travelling. Bank cards are also an insurance and an assistance abroad.Although the automatic cash dispensers for Carte Bleue Visa, Eurocard Mastercard and American Express are well implanted through Europe and the main capitals of the world, they are often rarer in medium-sized towns, and sometimes even absent or out of order. For example there is only one Carte Bleue Visa cash dispenser in Vietnam. Therefore ask your bank before leaving.When you withdraw, it is often cheaper to withdraw a large sum in regards to the commission.American Express cards are of no use in Cuba. The United States' neighbourg, is still cross with Uncle Sam and doesn't accept them.Our adviceBefore leaving think of checking your credit limit at cash dispensers and counters abroad. It is generaly from 160 to 300 pounds, per 7 day periods for Visa et Eurocard MasterCard cards; from 730 pounds, for an American Express and much higher for "Premier" and "Gold" cards.Also check your payment limit in shops. It is limited to 2,000 pounds per 30 day period for Visa or Eurocard holders. If you think you will need more, then negotiate a higher limit with your bank. It is unlimited for American Express card holders. If you are paying by card in a shop using the old "carbon copy" system, check that the amount is indicated on the bill. It must made in the local currency and not in US Dollars...Write down the complete numbers of you card as well as its expiration date, and keep it on you but not in your wallet. Also, find and keep the phone number to call in case you need to cancel your card. In the case of a lost or stolen card, this information will be required.
Money on the other side of the world in 10 minutesIf you are short of money somewhere on the other side of the world, then MoneyGram will get you money in 10 minutes. To do this, call someone that you know in your country and send them to a Thomas Cook foreign exchange office. Once there, they can send the money and pay the transfer fee (around 5% of the amount sent), they then get a reference number that they send to you. All you have to do is go to a local Thomas Cook agency (25,000 agencies in the world) and indicate the precious reference number and immediately obtain the money in the local currency
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